We could stretch it to more than four, but let’s stay focused. All ears, of course, will be on Ricky Gervais, as we wonder what he can possibly do to top his hilarious, irreverent turn as host last year. The first five minutes should tell.
But what other things should we be watching for on tonight's show? Here’s a short list:
1. SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE
If Christopher Plummer does not win Best Supporting Actor, if The Artist does not win Best Comedy or Musical Film, if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie do not get more reaction shots as they watch than anyone else, and if Gervais does not make fun of Johnny Depp (his new best friend) at least once – if any one of those things happens, hide under the bed, because the Earth has spiraled off its axis. All bets are off.
2. GREAT ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES
Plummer gave a charming acceptance at the Critics’ Choice Awards on Monday, and Michel Hazanavicius (whose Artist is not one of my favorites) endeared himself to me when he won Best Director by saying “I don’t know what Best Director means, actually . . . Especially after seeing the clips of Martin Scorsese’s work and after passing by Steven Spielberg’s table . . . I think it’s stupid.” I have to agree – this year it’s especially dumb that he beat Scorsese -- but it was an endearing thing to say.
Viola Davis gave the night’s one great acceptance, though, talking about “Five hours on the bus going to acting classes when I was 14 years old and coming from very challenging circumstances, “ but knowing she wanted to “dream big.” And just when it seemed she might tip into the mawkish, she turned it around by evoking the characters in The Help, saying “I considered it my honor to pay homage to those women, in that time period, who were not allowed to dream.” Wow, an emotional but controlled, unsentimental, inspiring speech that wasn’t all about her. If she wins tonight, don’t miss a word. (And don’t think Academy voters didn’t hear that Oscar-worthy speech.
3. OSCAR MOMENTUM
The Globes are the silly awards from that wacky foreign group, the awards that can’t be taken too seriously – in themselves. But they can do everything to create Oscar momentum, so here’s what tonight’s awards can and can’t do.
They probably won’t nudge Best Picture, because The Artist is in the Globes Comedy category and its main rival, The Descendants, is in drama. If The Descendants doesn’t win, that could be bad though.
Best Actress: Meryl Streep and Viola Davis are head-to-head for Iron lady and The Help, as they were for the Critics’ Choice and will be for Oscars. If Davis wins again, it’s hard to see her losing the Oscar.
Best Actor: George Clooney won the Critics’ Choice, and if he wins the Globe he’ll seem a sure thing for the Oscar - and The Descendants team will have to start worrying about the risk of seeming too inevitable. Of course, I think he should win them all.
4. RICKY GERVAIS WILL TWEET
Gervais has promised that he’ll tweet - @rickygervais - from backstage, which sounds like he’s expecting way too much down time. But his running commentary during the dull parts (tributes, bad banter, you know that’s all coming) may be just what the show needs. If his tweets are funny enough I’ll collect the best and post them on the blog.
Be on the lookout for Red Carpet and pre-show clues. Remember when James Franco seemed so cranky when he was interviewed just before the Oscars last year, and no one seemed to know why?